Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

Referencing my initial post on Stark’s Triumph of Christianity, https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/summer-reading/, a little more.

I didn’t double check it, but wikipedia summarizes Stark’s earlier Rise of Christianity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_of_Christianity

My summary of the summary is that Christians were legit, and they proved it by sticking around and helping, and by preferring martyrdom to armed revolt. Christianity was also mostly strong among the working middle and upper class. The same can be said today. Like most religion, Christianity appeals to the downtrodden masses, but the poor can only take religion so seriously. Bread and health first. The soul second.

To lend credence to his view that Christianity grew only through one-to-one conversions dependent upon family bonds and social circles, he points to modern Mormonism. I think it is a valid point. From the perspective of sociology, it sure seems a sound comparison and good explanation.

I think it is worth mentioning the wikipage for Stark; again, I didn’t run the references. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Stark I found it interesting.

Changing subject, working from memory without rereading, Stark shows various aspects of Jewish history before and during the Roman era. He points out the armed rebellions, revolts, and simple acts of terrorism conducted throughout those centuries.

I couldn’t help but notice this is another similarity between the Roman Empire and the modern world, particularly similar to the USA. The Jewish people have become almost entirely peace-loving, though they are determined to defend themselves, and terrorism arises from a different source, though the root-causes look almost identical. It is quite legitimate to call for the complete withdrawal of the West from the region. Let them work out what they must. Frankly, it isn’t likely to be worse than what we are doing there.

We really don’t have the problem with oil now. We need to leave.

Here is the stark reality: Rome finally had enough of radical terrorism after the midpoint of the first century. Rome utterly destroyed all that was Jewish in Palestine, including Jerusalem and most of the region. Stark concludes chapter 2 thus, “This was the Jewish world into which Jesus was born and raised, conducted his ministry, and was crucified. It was a society of monotheists dedicated to the importance of holy scripture. In addition to sustaining a remarkable number of scholars and teachers, it was also a world prolific in prophets and terrorists. Hence, this tiny society of Jews at the edge of the empire caused Rome far more trouble than did any other province. It even might be said that in the end, despite having been reduced to rubble by Titus in 70 CE, Jerusalem conquered Rome.”

His point is consistent with the intent of his book. My point is that history is repeating itself.

I really don’t want to be part of a society that is responsible for the destruction of another, no matter how bad terrorism might get. If we leave, and it doesn’t get better, perhaps it will come down to survival. Perhaps the West will have to utterly destroy all that the current terrorists fight for. However, I really don’t see people as that suicidal. The radicals are self-destroying. The extremists die or wise up.

We need to leave. All of the West needs to get out of all of the Middle East. Let them sort out their religions and their politics. It doesn’t really matter if it takes centuries. History always takes centuries. Besides, I think if we let them alone and treat them as equals and as fair trading partners, well, I bet they start acting like equals and fair trading partners.

Let’s try.

The alternative is written in the world of the followers of Jesus in the First Century. We need to at least determine to not repeat that history. Let us learn its lessons and live.

 

Rodney Stark is an author. Pastor is conducting a book study on Sunday afternoons of Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity, which is a history of the Jesus-Movement, from just before the first Christmas to modern times. We start this coming Sunday, and we are to discuss the first three chapters. I’ve read them now, and even at this point I can highly recommend this book. Good Reads gives it 4.2 stars out of five. (293 ratings with 59 reviews.)

So insightful.

I appreciate that he keeps pointing out incorrect assumptions. I thank him for taking a matter-of-fact stance and just discussing the facts. He takes the Bible seriously, but he points out where things don’t match up. He also doesn’t cotton dismissing the bible just because there are no other confirmations.

I like his style. Very conversational and easy to read. Good story telling for a history book.

I keep thinking of things I want to write about while reading, and now that I have sat to write, I can’t think of them.

Well, one: He points out serious studies of such things and shows how people’s beliefs primarily match their social circles. Family first, then friends, then community. Well, duh.

He has some interesting comments about evangelization, and he compares Paul to Billy Graham briefly. Good stuff. Mostly, I have discovered that souls can only find agreement with mine when they know I love them, and they love me. It really is one heart at a time.

Oh, Jewish-Roman relations. I need to write about that.

He doesn’t write a lot about most topics he mentions, but the topics are loaded, and I need to write out some of it.

More to come.

Peter J. Leithart, writing for First Things, here, http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/12/spirit-in-flesh gives us something to read, reread, and ponder deeply. A small excerpt:

A coming in “flesh” is not simply an advent “as man.” In Scripture, “flesh” has a more specific connotation. It’s the biblical name for “the weakness of the human. . . . It is the way we are vulnerable, exposed.” We are flesh because “our life is subject to touch, that is, to what gives pleasure and pain, gives joy, and makes wounding possible” (Theodore Jennings, Jr.). The Word makes himself weak and exposes himself to pain. If you prick him, he bleeds; if you tickle him, he laughs; if you crucify him, he dies. To say the Word becomes flesh is to say the Word becomes woundable and dwells among us.

Death is part of life. God made it that way. (The adversary did not.)

Jesus, the Word, the Logos, knew. He knew what it was intimately for He created it.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,a and the life was the light of men.5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I don’t suppose that Jesus knew as he breathed as you and me as he had known before His advent in flesh. He felt everything we feel. Insecurity. Awkwardness. I’m sure he found that one girl down the street particularly cute, and felt shy, same as I did all those years ago. He was a man. I’m certain he figured it all out as he grew. He knew His Father. He knew the indwelling Spirit. He knew.

He knew as only God can know before he took on our flesh, our weakness. He came anyway.

By the garden, He knew, limited as His realization may have been, He knew. Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine. He knew. He had to have realized the infinite breadth of the sacrifice he was about to make–how utterly it would darken his soul, but that was surely secondary to being familiar with Roman crucifixion. He was going to die in the utmost of pain, in frustration and fatigue, struggling even for every breath, as the weight of not only his own body, but the weight of the sins of us all, even the weight and vastness of the entire universe compressing upon Him. He knew. The creator knew it was required for the ultimate reality he created.

We don’t understand it. We can try. We should try, but we do not understand it.

Most of all, while He did it for all, all of everything, he would have done it just for me.

My sin drove the nails.

Love.

The title comes from the words of our Lord. Note, Jesus added “mind” to the quote from the Jewish Law. Mark tells us Jesus said it, adding mind, and the lawyer answered back wisely that we must love God with our whole understanding. It is clear that part of our service to, and love for, God includes our thinking and knowledge. That is science and philosophy. It is unwise, according to the scripture, to hold that there is animosity between science and faith. In fact, I hold that there cannot be one without the other.

Shannon Medisky wrote an article for BioLogos, http://biologos.org/blog/soul-strength-and-mind-how-biologos-brought-me-out-of-hiding, explaining how she felt shunned by her fellow Christians for accepting science without twisting it to certain dogma. I’ll add that the dogma in question is not even orthodox.

Ms. Medisky explains how she grew up as excited about Jesus as she was about science, but she soon realized that most Christians won’t stand for that. She closeted herself.

She correctly states:

We’re called to love God with all our soul, strength and mind. My scientific pursuits and interests were an important part of the latter. Learning more about the world—including how we got here—was simply another facet of honoring God. And to do anything less than wonder, question and learn would be to deny a very important part of the potential God so graciously gave us all.

That is how I have always felt. Like her, I’ve always stayed quiet about my acceptance of science, especially after I lost all reservations regarding biological evolution, but I’ve never been one to back down or equivocate. If you ask, I’m going to answer, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

She wrote for BioLogos. It makes sense that she praised them highly. While she felt alone, I learned long ago there were plenty of Christians like me who accepted science as simply part of God’s creation. Still, BioLogos is a comfort to me too, and it is an excellent resource. If you want to learn, BioLogos is an excellent place to start.

Of course, if you’d rather just be fundamentalist, go ahead and take the indoctrination and talking points of the young-earth creationists, and be confrontational and sure of yourself. However, I strongly recommend following the words of the prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Yes, this is what the Lord requires of each of us.

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